If you’re a safe driver, you might believe that the major contributor to most automobile accidents is alcohol or excessive speed. Recent research has revealed, however, that there is an underlying factor that could affect you the next time you’re on the road — and it might be important no matter how spotless your safety record is.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released a report that shows that as many as 5% of all traffic accidents could be linked to tire issues. The biggest risk? According to the research, which took place between 2005 and 2007, underinflated tires are both typical and dangerous.
The problem is clear: No matter how excellent your driving may be, you are at increased risk whenever you drive a vehicle with underinflated tires. Cars with tires inflated 25% below their rated pressure were three times more likely to be involved in an accident than other vehicles — with stability impairment even under the best conditions.
Experienced, trained drivers with underinflated tires might encounter catastrophic issues maneuvering and controlling their cars in harsh weather. Rain, snow, sleet or even fog could set drivers up for an accident. Other forms of tire damage are also cause for concern, but underinflated tires are the most pervasive problem.
If you are not a car expert, it could be hard to spot an underinflated tire. What’s worse, tire companies may underinflate tires during manufacture to save money. Even your local repair shop may leave your tires underinflated, placing you at risk of severe personal injury even if the rest of your car is in perfect condition.
It is important to be aware of the tire pressure monitoring system on your car and to act promptly to correct any warnings that it issues. Tire pressure should also be checked visually every time you get in the car and manually, using a tire pressure gauge, on a periodic basis (such as each time you fill up your car with gas).
There are also serious legal considerations surrounding tire pressure and the associated accidents. Should tire companies be held accountable in a court of law for actions that are arguably negligent and dangerous?
The recall of more than ten million Ford Explorer tires a decade ago led to Congressional action requiring tire pressure monitoring devices in all cars. However, this may be the first time to date that the significance of tire pressure in so many accidents has been obvious to everyone — from industry insiders to consumers and everyone in between.
Whenever a large category of people, such as motorists, are at risk, personal injury concerns are in play. Do your part to ensure proper tire pressure on your vehicle. If you are involved in a crash where you believe tire pressure is a factor, contact legal representation right away.
In addition to taking steps to ensure that your tires are adequately inflated, make sure you have an auto insurance policy that adequately covers you in the event of an accident (regardless of who is at fault). While tires may also be a leading contributor to automobile accidents, it is not the only one. Adhering to your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule will help you ensure that your brakes, steering and other critical safety features are in top condition.